“Happy Death Day”

A macabre title for a blog post, I’ll admit – but, don’t worry, it’s a happy story.

It also kind of reinforces the point I’ll make here – you may have had a lot of preconceptions of this from the title, but it’s different from what you think…

In my last post I spoke about how disappointment can strike at any time. Such as walking through London only to find a massive statue of Jeff Goldblum isn’t there…

… but here I’m talking about the other kind of surprise. The good one.

So let me set the scene. It’s a Tuesday night. It’s too hot to sleep. I’m alone in my room with the sounds of London drifting through the cracked window. A candle flickers atop of a cabinet in the corner and I’m scrolling through Now TV to find something to watch.

Does anyone else find that, while these streaming services give us a plethora of choices, they also make us incredibly indecisive?

At least back in the day when TV schedules reigned supreme it took away hours of fruitless flicking and soulless scrolling.

I narrowed my choices down to some of the shorter films and found one that ran for an hour and a half. The title was ‘Happy Death Day’ – which, in my humble opinion, is a terrible title.

I was about to flick past it when something about the synopsis caught my eye. Apparently it was like Groundhog Dog meets Friday the 13th.

Now, Groundhog Day is a great movie… but I’m no slasher film fan. Yet still, against my better judgement I gave it a go.

The opening titles rolled and… within seconds I was hooked!

Against all the odds it was good. and deserves its 7/10 rating on IMDB.

(Look out for a great lead performance by Jessica Rothe, who you may recognise from La La Land)

Who knew, though?

Everything about it made me want to skip it, but curiosity got the better of me and I’m glad it did. That age old saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ held true.

Although, I do think they need to reconsider that title – I recommended it to a friend and when I mentioned the title his first comment was; ‘sounds grim’.

How would I market it?

Maybe Groundhog Dog meets Alfred Hitchcock.

It takes away the stigma we have around slasher films, yet also hints that viewers will be in for some killer scenes.

Check it out!

by Ashley Brown

featured photo: looper.com

other image: Business Insider

High Noon

Last night I watched the film High Noon. I really enjoyed it.

It was released in 1952 and is considered to be one of the best films ever made.

As a film buff I was kind of embarrassed not to have seen it.

Feel free to judge me…but, one of the reasons why I hadn’t is because it’s over 60 years old now and filmed in black and white.

I know. I know. I shouldn’t be so judgemental – but, how could something made in another era still appeal to me – a contemporary 21st century viewer?

I was wrong!

And do you know why?

Because the basic things that entertain and intrigue human beings haven’t changed.

Not in 60 years, not in 200 years and not in 500 years.

Sure we advance as a society and the technology with which we communicate and tell our stories changes – but the basic content doesn’t.

High Noon is about a man who stands up for what he believes in, even when all those around him abandon him.

At the end of the film there’s a classic good versus evil showdown. I can almost guarantee that not one viewer has ever been on the side of the bad guys in the film – humans just love an underdog!

Because, even though we’re not all good, we like to think we are.

Whyididntwritetoday @ the movies: IT (2017)

I think that life can be very hard for the horror genre. Especially when it comes to the general public. Whenever a horror film appears in the cinema the audience will instantly scrutinise it…is it scary? No…is it actually scary? Is it cheesy? Does it make sense?

What’s more, horror has a kind of a stigma attached to it. I mean, how many genuienly world class horror films are there out there? How many mainstream awards ceremonies would consider a horror film? And, how many big name actors would actually agree to star in one?

So, when I heard that Stephen King’s ‘IT’ was being given the big screen treatment I didn’t know what to expect. As you might recall from a blog a few months back I’d only just read the book and, on the whole, enjoyed it.

So anyway, when time allowed, I dragged my girlfriend to see it one Saturday night. The reviews I’d seen had been fairly positive – so my hopes were high.

I’m pleased to say that it was well worth my £12 ticket.
(…remember when it was about £3 for a ticket? I was clearing out some old receipts the other day and saw a ticket for 2 Fast 2 Furious {2003} and it was a mere £3!)

In a day and age where we’re almost desensitised to things it’s hard to truly be scary, but at many points throughout, ‘IT’ manages to spook the viewer. Sure, as with most horror flicks, there were a few ‘jump scares’ but there was also an underlying sense of dread that threaded through most of the scenes and, even though I roughly knew what was happening, left me on edge.

(photo: IndieWire)

In terms of true horror no punches are pulled. Right from the word go one of the local children is dispatched by the titular clown character and the pace doesn’t really slow down from there.

There are certainly a lot of differences from the book, but it’s the same story and I think the main child actors do a fantastic job of bringing their characters to life. The casting is nigh on perfect and the kids who play Richie and Eddie steal the show in many scenes.

While Tim Curry will always be famous for playing Pennywise the clown in the TV mini-series, Bill Skarsgård does a more than capable job here. I liked the fact that, rather than copy Curry’s fantastic display, he goes his own way and comes up with some very credible results.

There’s a scene right at the start where he goes from laughing to scowling within a matter of seconds and I felt goosebumps prickle all over me.

5/5 for me and a must-see for anyone who hasn’t already, whether you’re a Stephen King fan or not.

This film focuses solely on one half of the book, which depicts the main characters’ childhood struggles – there’s a sequel coming and it’ll tell the story of their adulthood.

I’m looking forward to it, and I’m also intrigued as to who will play them as adults. Here’s a speculative article I found which whets the whistle of anticipation:





Danny Boyle, the tube and suspenseful endings.

I watched a film called ‘Fallen’ last night.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, before?

I hadn’t. It seems to have slipped a bit under the radar. It’s a 1998 horror film starring Denzel Washington – as I like horror and Denzel, and had never seen the two together before, I felt compelled to give it a go.

In short, it’s a good film – I recommend you check it out. Although, be warned, I’m about to give a spoiler…


Okay, so it had one of those ‘shock’ endings that you often see in horror or thriller films. You know the one…where you think the bad guy is dead…and then suddenly – BOOM – something happens to make you think otherwise.

Like those Jason or Michael Myers films where you see a shot of the killer at the end and realise that there’s going to be a sequel.


It got me thinking about endings and how important they are. Although for those of us who ‘didn’t write today’ beginnings are harder than endings…!

The whole ‘shock’ ending started out as being a bit rebellious…something a bit different. Hollywood audiences were so used to things working out happily that a ‘surprise’ ending really used to work back in the day. Audiences didn’t know what to expect.

Their humdrum idea that ‘everything will be okay in the end’ was suddenly well and truly shaken.

However, nowadays, I wonder if it’s something that’s rather overused. Almost predictable. I’d say that 60 – 70% of the horror films that I’ve seen recently have relied on it. Which brings me to a point where I’d be more surprised if things ended up happily ever after.

One thing I think that does work is an ambiguous, open ending. The kind of thing that gets people talking long after the end credits have rolled.

A good example of this is in the film Shallow Grave, which came out in 1994. If you’ve not seen it I highly recommend it – it was the director Danny Boyle’s cinematic debut.

The film has caused a lot of debate online (and offline too) due to its ending. As the film ends one of the characters is badly injured, and as the emergency services arrive you can’t quite work out whether he’s dead or not.

After watching it I remember searching online to see what others thought, but no one seemed to be sure.

Fast forward several months and I’m on the tube heading from Camden to East London. I look over to my right…and who do I see in front of me? None other than Danny Boyle.

Back in these days I was an aspiring actor, so I opened up a conversation with him. He was a lovely guy and really chatty. It was during the chat that I suddenly realised that I’d been presented with a rare opportunity.

I could actually ask about the ending of Shallow Grave and have an answer from none other than the director himself.

And so I did. And he told me that the character was definitely alive at the end of the film.

He also told me how surprised he was whenever he heard that people thought the ending was ambiguous. When they filmed it they’d assumed that everyone would know that he was alive.

How about that!? A surprise ending wasn’t even meant to be quite so surprising at all.

(Oh and of course I asked him to cast me in one of his films. They were currently filming for Trainspotting 2. He gave me the name of his casting director – I emailed her, and alas, never heard back. Maybe next time)

While we’re on the subject of endings, there’s one film that steals it for me for every time.


If you haven’t seen John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ you need to. Incredible slice of cinema.



The Box

I watched a film today called ‘The Box’.

It wasn’t a great movie, in fact it was probably below average – but it did make me think.

Basically, a financially troubled couple wake up one morning to find a mysterious box on their doorstep. Inside the box they find nothing but a button. A mysterious old man turns up and tells them that they have twenty-four hours to make a decision.


If they press the button before the twenty-four hours is up he’ll give them one million dollars (tax-free), but if they don’t press it they won’t get the money.

Sounds like an easy choice doesn’t it? 

Who doesn’t want a million?

Of course, as with any too-good-to-be-true deal, there’s a catch. By pushing the button to receive the million dollars, one person somewhere in the world will die as a result.

So it’s a classic conundrum and a classic question. Do you do it? Do you press that button? And, if you do press it, could you live with the guilt? Whether it be your neighbour dying, or someone in a faraway city that you’ve never even heard of.

After I finished the film, I happened to look at my Instagram feed and I was instantly swept away in a stream of ‘motivational’ posts. Quotes, gym snaps, holiday photos and ‘tough day at the office’ pics.

Many of us are chasing success and we’ll go at great lengths to post about it on social media, but how many of us are actually doing everything that we can to guarantee that we get it?

Sure pressing a button and condemning someone to death is a pretty extreme way to get what you want, and thankfully it’s not what any of us need to do – but, in your own way, are you doing everything you can to get to where you want to be?


You can learn something from Hugh Grant

When I was a kid I was an enthusiastic actor. Nativity plays, Christmas specials, summer shows – I always tried to steal the show, and usually succeeded.

I wish I’d have pursued it more back then but, alas, it wasn’t to be.

I became an awkward teenager and an ensuing lack of confidence robbed me of my drama skills. I did end up auditioning for a play at school when I was about fourteen and succeeded in landing the role of  ‘Bush #2’.

I never knew that there were talking bushes in ‘Romeo & Juliet’ – but I landed the role and got to deliver one whole line of dialogue. 

My acting career did have a revival in my early twenties, however. I won a role in several short films and even got a small part in a feature length production – ticking off a life goal in the process.

(There I am, making my feature length debut as a cocky drug dealer)

Whenever I spoke about acting I was always asked who my inspiration was.

People always laughed at my initial reply…and then waited for the ‘real answer’.

But it was no joke – the man who got me interested in acting was Hugh Grant.

Sure, he plays the same character in (nearly) every film, and his career peaked in the 1990s.

But…he has an estimated net worth of £60 million.

Pretty good for a one trick pony, isn’t it?

Now, while it’s good to experiment…it’s also good to have a winning formula and stick to it.

As a creative you should feel free to broaden your horizons when the chance arises but remember what you’re best at.

Which is why I spend my spare time writing and not acting.

Although if there’s a role going let me know and I’ll pencil in an audition…

Reviewing bad horror films…

I recently took a spontaneous leap and signed up for Shudder – if you’re into horror or thriller films, it may well be worth checking out. It’s basically a genre-tailored version of Netflix.

Horror films are notorious when it comes to fiction – be it on film or in the pages of a book. I guess it’s because some of them are so bad – low budget filmmakers just can’t seem to keep themselves away from trying to tell scary stories.

As excruciatingly cringe-worthy as some might be, sometimes it’s a bit of fun to switch off and watch them. So, today that’s what I’ve done and I’ve taken it upon myself to review a few of them as I went.

Ritual (2013)

(Take That – 2060 reunion gig)

Plot in a nutshell: A man takes a late night call from his estranged wife, and soon wishes he hadn’t.

This film could be a poster child for the term ‘low-budget’ – 90% of it takes place in one location and many of the scenes look as if they’ve been shot on a handheld camcorder, giving it that ‘straight outta film school’ vibe.

At the start there’s a really cool, old school ‘warning’ screen that comes on and says that anyone with a faint heart shouldn’t stay at watch the film. I liked that, and I also liked the use of sound and voiceovers. They’re great at building tension, and the one easy tool that a low budget filmmaker usually has in their arsenal in sound.

I don’t mind a slowburner, but this was exceptionally slow at times. In fact, for long periods of time, this almost seemed more like a relationship drama than a horror film.

The ending will no doubt shock a lot of viewers – it was quite bold! There were a few jump scenes, and there was a creepy overall feeling but I didn’t find myself walking away from it and thinking…’that was some tense shit’ so from me this gets a 2/5.

The Burning (1981)

(Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue, circa 1980s)

Plot in a nutshell: A pissed-off caretaker unleashes his anger on the residents of a summer camp.

Where would any post on horror movies be complete without a slasher reference? Although I have to say, for long periods of time (particularly at the end) this one plays out more like a thriller – something which works in its favour.

I fully expected to not enjoy ‘The Burning’ at all. I thought I’d sit here in my Ivory Tower, laughing at how cheesy and poorly made it was….but I was wrong. Sure, it is cheesy and, in some points, highly predictable – but there are some good ‘jump’ scenes and the final twenty minutes of the film really got me going.

Having said that, some of the dialogue was terrible. Here are a few highlights:

“Burned so bad he’s cooked. fuckin’ big mac. overdone” (this line is spoken by a Doctor)

‘Alfred’s been prowling around the girl’s shower’
‘What do you have to say about that, Alfred?’
‘I only meant to scare her!’ (said as if it’s the most normal thing in the world)

‘Michelle! the canoes have gone”
‘What do you mean they’re gone?’
‘They’re not here!’

‘Where did you learn to build a raft?’
‘Raft building! in the boy scouts!
‘Thank God for the boy scouts!’

I believe this film was actually banned for a while in the UK due to a scene on a raft…but, compared to what we see nowadays, it’s relatively tame.

Special shoutout to Jason Alexander who is great in this – he’d eventually go on to star in Seinfeld. 


The attitudes of some of the camp seniors to their girlfriends are really terrible here, they come across as absolute animals and you’re left with very little sympathy for them when they run into the killer.

These sorts of films are predictable, though and until the last portion of the film none of the characters have any fight in them, so they’re really just fodder for the killer (Cropsey is his nickname!) – they all make such stupid decisions too, it’s easy to be frustrated by it.

I did like the ending though – it was the usual kind of ‘shock’ ending that these films usually have – something that’s meant to be surprising but now does the opposite.

For me it’s a 4/5 – it’s laughable in places, but also keeps the pulse-racing and it really does hold your attention. Something which so many films miss nowadays.

Tenebrae (1982)

(I already said, I don’t have any treats!)

Plot in a nutshell: An author goes to promote his book in Rome, and a murderer suddenly strikes.

Like a good wine selection, I don’t think any horror film list is complete without something Italian. Apparently, this was inspired by some experiences that the director (Dario Argento) actually had with a crazed fan.

While the story is mostly linear and easy to follow, it does occasionally burst into strange and fleeting dream-like sequences. Fragmented and disjointed images, accompanied by creepy music. It reminded me of the way nightmares played out.

Some of the themes are good and, again, there’s a nice use of music to elevate tension. But, as with so many horror films, the filmmaker is so hellbent on upping his bodycount that the characters continually put themselves in danger, and make silly decisions.

Some of the drama involved is very convoluted,  and the acting isn’t going to be any awards any time soon – but it is entertaining, and it didn’t find my attention wavering.

The ending was silly though and, again, characters do stupid things just to put themselves in the way of danger so the body count can go up.

3/5 for me, I’d say.